What is SharePoint? What can it do for me? What do I need to know about it? Why should I use it?
Do these questions sound familiar? Have you found yourself wondering what SharePoint is and what it can do for your organization? You’re not alone! At ProServeIT, our prospects and customers are asking these same questions. So, today, we’re going back to basics.
In this exploratory blog, we’ll discuss what SharePoint is, what you need to know about it, the benefits of using it, and how you can get started.
In this blog, you will find:
What is SharePoint?
SharePoint is a highly customizable Cloud-based content collaboration and management platform that can help your team work remotely, work together, and work smarter. Used by over 200,000 companies globally, SharePoint is a content management platform that encourages collaboration among teams, regardless of where they are in the world.
In plain English, SharePoint allows you to manage all of your corporate content (from RFIs to marketing materials to financials and more), create websites and company intranets to keep your users informed on what’s happening, create business processes to automate some of your more mundane tasks (like workflows) and build customized apps that can help your teams become more productive.
Key Features of Microsoft SharePoint
Microsoft SharePoint is a multifaceted tool offering many features. Let's summarize some of the most important ones:
- 📝 Document Collaboration: Real-time co-authoring allows multiple users to work on a document simultaneously.
- 🔍 Search: SharePoint provides powerful search features, making finding the content you need amongst your organization's vast amounts of data easy.
- 📁 Content Management: SharePoint allows for the easy organization and management of documents and content within your organization.
- 👥 Collaboration Tools: SharePoint integrates with Microsoft Teams, Yammer, and other tools to enhance team collaboration.
- ⚙️ Workflow Automation: SharePoint Workflows can automate a variety of tasks, saving time and improving efficiency.
What is SharePoint used for?
Before discussing the benefits of SharePoint, we need to establish why you should be using it. Consider the following questions:
☑️ Do your employees work remotely?
☑️ Do your employees often move from one client location or meeting to another?
☑️ Do your employees need access to various devices to do their jobs?
☑️ How are your employees currently accessing the content that they need?
☑️ Do you have customer-facing requirements, like a place to share information, an online catalog, an online Request for Information form, or an online Request for a Quote form that your customers must fill out?
☑️ Do you share documents with your customers often?
☑️ Are you using USBs to transport and work on presentations, requests for information, or marketing collateral?
☑️ Does your staff ever complain that they wish there was an easier way to access your content?
The great news is SharePoint has been designed to address all these questions, and many of the benefits we’ll talk about below speak to the most common pain points that we’ve heard from our customers – the requirement for more remote/on-the-go access, moving away from using USBs (which can easily get lost or corrupted), helping your employees become more productive, sharing information and documents with customers, and the need for a customer-facing solution.
SharePoint has several great features built into it, including real-time co-authoring capabilities, high-powered tagging features to make searching for content easier, anywhere-anytime access (all you need is an Internet connection) for any device you use, and powerful integration with your current Office 365 environment, which enables you to be more productive in your day.
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What Are the Benefits of SharePoint?
As we touched upon above, SharePoint has many benefits built-in. Below, we’ve outlined just three of the key benefits that we’ve found our customers to be most interested in. Want to know about other benefits of using SharePoint in your organization? Our experts are always happy to chat!
1. SharePoint is Secure
Microsoft takes security very seriously. Their Cloud computing operations detect 1.5 million attempts every day to compromise their systems, so they have invested an annual security budget of $1 billion USD.
This emphasis on security pervades every aspect of Microsoft’s business, which includes its SharePoint stack. SharePoint comes with several built-in security features, like the ability to limit who outside your organization can see your content, set permissions on who in your organization has access to certain things, create policies to allow or block certain user behavior, and allow or block your team’s access to content based on their locations.
2. SharePoint Helps Organizations Be More Collaborative
SharePoint has been designed to enhance the collaboration experience, especially when it’s paired with other Office 365 apps and services. When deployed as part of Office 365, SharePoint creates a virtual workspace that allows teams to meet, complete tasks, and collaborate with one another.
How, specifically? Here are a few ways that SharePoint can help organizations be more collaborative:📁 SharePoint allows your documents to reside in one shared place that can be accessed from any device, at any time, provided there is an Internet connection.
📝 It features real-time co-authoring capabilities, enabling multiple employees to work on the same document simultaneously.
🔄 SharePoint always displays the latest version of a document, with an option to revert to an earlier version if necessary.
👥 Team members and leaders can set up individual or group tasks, assign tasks to other team members, and monitor task completion.
🔗 It allows for the revelation of any dependent relationships between tasks.
📆 SharePoint users have access to a shared calendar for effective scheduling.
📓 It provides a shared notebook through OneNote, ensuring everyone is on the same page.
💬 SharePoint offers shared chat functionality through Yammer for effective communication.
🛠️ It includes various other collaboration tools, enhancing teamwork and productivity.
The best thing about SharePoint as a virtual workspace is that you don’t need an IT team to be able to do any of these things – the team leader can set up a collaboration.
3. SharePoint Can Help Automate Mundane Tasks
SharePoint Workflows save you time and effort while also bringing consistency and efficiency to tasks that your organization performs on a regular basis. You can think of SharePoint Workflows as a chain of events that happens after you do something with a document or file in your SharePoint environment. SharePoint can help you automate mundane tasks, like collecting signatures or approvals, tracking statuses on documents, providing notifications if/when something changes, and more.
ProServeIT’s customers typically use the following five commonly used Workflows within their SharePoint environments: Approval Workflows, Status Workflows, Notification Workflows, Automation Workflows, and Custom Workflows. For more information on these workflows, our recent blog can provide some examples of using them in your organization.
"But I heard from a colleague who used SharePoint in their last job that SharePoint is hard to use!"
When we bring up SharePoint as a potential solution, a lot of our customers seem to hold a bias against SharePoint – either they’ve dealt with it personally, or they know someone who has, and their experiences haven’t been the smoothest.
Considering that Microsoft is constantly updating its Office 365 suite of products, which includes SharePoint, it’s fair to say that this bias won’t reflect the current SharePoint solution you’ll be using. In fact, in our experience, when we work with an organization that takes the time to plan out its SharePoint implementation properly, gets employee input and buy-in for the project, properly deploys its SharePoint solution, and spends the time and effort to introduce it to their employees the right way, there's absolutely no reason why SharePoint can't be the helpful collaboration tool we’ve described here.
Still hesitant? Our Quick Migration to SharePoint offer is the perfect place to start. We’ll help you with an on-site meeting that goes over your existing environment, recommendations on structuring your site, tips for leveraging your SharePoint environment, and optional recommendations for future planning. By engaging in this workshop, we can work with you to help your SharePoint deployment be more successful.
Struggling with Collaboration and Content Management?
ProServeIT, as a Microsoft Solutions Partner, can guide your organization through a successful digital transformation. We utilize powerful tools like SharePoint to address your unique needs and elevate your business processes.
Ready for Efficient Workflows and Enhanced Collaboration?
If you're ready to streamline your organization's operations and enhance team collaboration, it's time to discover how SharePoint can be your solution.
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SharePoint vs. OneDrive: What's the Difference?
While both SharePoint and OneDrive are Microsoft products that allow for document storage, they serve different purposes and have different features. OneDrive is essentially an online folder system for file storage, but SharePoint includes many other features such as collaboration, CMS, and more.
- 📂 OneDrive is designed for individual use, with each user having their own personal storage space. It's perfect for storing personal documents or files that aren't meant to be shared with others.
- 🌐 SharePoint, on the other hand, is designed for collaboration. It allows for creating sites and sub-sites within an organization where files can be stored, organized, and shared.
Is SharePoint the Same as Google Drive?
While SharePoint and Google Drive may seem similar on the surface, they are actually quite different. Both offer cloud storage and collaboration tools, but how they integrate with other tools and their functionality varies significantly.
- 🗄️ Google Drive is primarily a storage service, similar to OneDrive, but it also allows for real-time collaboration on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.
- 🔄 SharePoint is a much more robust platform. It includes document storage and collaboration and has more advanced features like workflow automation, customized app creation, and extensive content management capabilities.
Now that we've explored some of the differences between SharePoint and other tools, let's look at SharePoint licensing and how it can fit into your organization's budget.
What Do You Need to Know About SharePoint Licensing?
There are a few different options for SharePoint licensing, including two online solutions or an on-premise solution. Below, we’ve outlined these three options and explained them in greater detail:
SharePoint Online Plan 1:
This is the Cloud-based version of SharePoint. It can be offered as a standalone product or bundled through various Office 365 licenses. There are a number of different packaged options through SharePoint Online, allowing you to choose which of the SharePoint server features you want to have access to.
A Quick Note about SharePoint Online: This is the Cloud-based version of SharePoint. It does not require you to install anything on your current server, and you can access it from anywhere at any time.
SharePoint Online Plan 2:
With the SharePoint Online Plan 2, you will have access to a full-featured SharePoint Online with enterprise capabilities, including all the benefits of SharePoint Online (Plan 1) plus more; Content Management, Search Functions, In-Place Holds, and Advanced Data Loss Prevention (DLP), which helps you identify, monitor and protect sensitive information.
Office 365 E3:
With the Office 365 E3 license, you will have access to the power of Office applications with advanced services for messaging, document sharing, compliance, and management features for IT. Aside from the standard features, you’ll also have access to business solutions (like Access Services), application integration, and business intelligence tools like PowerApps and Power Automate to help you make repetitive tasks easy with workflow automation.
This enterprise license will give you access to all the above, plus advanced scenarios for business intelligence, application integration, and Office services.
A quick note about SharePoint On-Premise: This is the latest on-premise version of SharePoint. If you want to implement this in your organization, you must have your IT team, a Microsoft partner, or a licensed SharePoint distributor install this on your current server for you. Although on-premises, your SharePoint Server can be accessed through mobile devices by downloading SharePoint Mobile Apps from your app store.
SharePoint is more than just a cloud-based content collaboration and management platform; it's a tool that can revolutionize how your organization communicates, collaborates, and operates. From secure content storage and real-time collaboration to advanced automation workflows, SharePoint provides an all-in-one solution for your business needs.
Whether you're comparing SharePoint to OneDrive or Google Drive, it's important to remember that each platform has its strengths and is designed to serve different purposes. SharePoint stands out for its extensive features that go beyond simple file storage, offering a more comprehensive solution for businesses.
Right to Play, a global non-profit organization, improved its staff’s access to necessary resources and tools by utilizing SharePoint.
Improved Access: Employees are using Office 365 and SharePoint, which give them the necessary tools to access the resources and materials they use when teaching children.
Increased Data Security: Right To Play utilized Windows 10’s biometric security to keep their data more secure, addressing the security issues that inevitably came up from having many employees working abroad.
Cost Savings: As a not-for-profit organization, Right to Play enjoys the benefits of Microsoft’s reduced cost structure for qualified nonprofits.